Lower the Volume on Race and Guns

In the wake of last week’s murderous rampage in Charleston, the liberal media is in fine scolding fettle, dressing Americans down on race and guns. According to respected pundits of the left, we need to talk about both more. We need to revive the discussion about guns, lest we prove as cowardly about pistols as we are about race. Yet since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, guns and race have been discussed relentlessly, and not coincidently racial tensions and gun violence have risen sympathetically. 

Obama began talking about race and guns nearly from day one, intervening in matters best left localized, elevating minor matters of racial discord and local crimes into national issues.  From Boston to Sandy Hook, to Sanford, to Ferguson, to Baltimore and now Charleston, the Obama administration, encouraged and followed by a lapdog mainstream media, talked about race and guns ad nauseam, with the result that things just seem to get worse. 

Perversely, that’s just the way the left likes it. The worse things get, the more we need to talk about “change.” Change, remember, was the primary motivating “idea” behind Obama’s presidential campaigns. The more things “change” in Obama’s America, the worse they get. And as things deteriorate we need to talk some more so that everything gets really bad, and liberals can discuss again how terrible America is, feel self-righteously good, ruin more lives and property, cycle and repeat.

With respect to guns, we are to talk about how awful and scary they are, and how backward we are because a madman murdered nine people. That talk has to include lies, like “How this kind of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” Let’s leave aside gun massacres in Norway and France (places with draconian gun control laws.) How about a German madman crashing a plane into a French mountain, killing himself and 149 other people?  That isn’t mass violence?

In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, the liberal executives and legislatures in several states (including Maryland where I reside) talked their way into passing poorly written and restrictive gun control laws that mock the Constitution, but not saved a single soul. The other day, as gang-bangers shot things out in Baltimore, I tried and failed to buy a wooden thumbhole stock for one of my old bolt action rifles. Thumbholes look scary to Martin O’Malley and so are now banned in the “free state”, though I don’t think a thumbhole ever killed anybody. 

The part of Maryland I live in, Prince George’s County, is mostly African-American. I’m a white guy, and I don’t talk about race a lot, because I don’t think about it a lot.  But according to a good share of the liberal intelligentsia, that’s not good. Of course, if I talked about race a lot that probably wouldn’t be a good thing either.   

Nonetheless, I have to admit that sometimes I notice that African-Americans are well, black. It’s a very human thing to do. It’s a basic principle of psychology that people are visual and sharply attuned to differences in appearance. It’s an accepted fact that perfectly honest witnesses have problems with cross-racial identifications (whites have greater trouble identifying blacks, and vice versa.)  No amount of talking is going to change this fact.  

But that’s much different than what President Obama recently said in a podcast when he claimed that racism is “…part of our DNA…” Sorry, no, Mr. President.  In a crisis my DNA might cause me more problems identifying particular facial features on a black man than a white man, but that’s not racism. Racism is not part of my DNA, or most other Americans. My father came to this country in 1929 and my mother was born to immigrants around that time. They both grew up in New York, where Jim Crow never existed, and needless to say, they didn’t own slaves.

When I do notice people’s race, I consciously try to ignore it. My wife and I go to D.C. occasionally to see a play or dine out, and a couple years ago, at a restaurant near Dupont Circle, I noticed that all the other customers were white (D.C. has changed a lot over the decades.) Where we live in P.G. County, most of the restaurants we frequent have mostly black customers. I guess that had been the case for some time, but I’d not noticed. When I did, I mentioned it to my wife, but didn’t talk about it anymore until now. Am I helping race relations? 

When something like that happens to me, I try to put it out of mind. I don’t think that is cowardly, I think it is good manners and the right thing to do. If I found a black person and tried to talk about it, they’d probably think I was crazy, and they’d be right. And if I was a liberal, probably that’s just what I would do.   

I also teach history, and know -- at least from book learning -- a lot about slavery, which was outlawed in this nation 150 years ago. Talking about history is okay, and we talk about America’s history of slavery and Jim Crow comprehensively in our schools. Even ignorant dropouts like Dylan Storm Roof are exposed to it, though no one can make a kid (black or white) pay attention.     

But the idea that because some white people owned black slaves long ago, that all white people (consciously or unconsciously) are white supremacists, is almost too stupid a proposition to discuss, and yet we are supposed to talk about it to make things “change.” In my hometown paper, the Washington Post, Lonae O’Neil, a columnist who appears to have been hired to talk about race, bemoaned her exhaustion talking about race, and then talked some more. The title of her column “Death of a Nation -- white supremacy is slowly killing us” pretty much says it all. Hysterical, inaccurate, tendentious, pretentious, poorly sourced and written, this is the type of “talk” that is killing us, not some chimeric idea of white supremacy. 

Among many errors, O’Neil imagines a conversation between a free black person and a white person about to enslave him/her. But such a thing almost never happened. African people were almost always enslaved in Africa by fellow Africans, and then sold to white slavers. The Islamic and trans-Atlantic African slave trades developed out of well-developed, existing African slave networks. In Africa, for thousands of years, real property was owned communally (a leftist dream) so Africans distinguished themselves by owning personal property, mostly cattle and other people. And slavery persists today in Africa and the Islamic Middle East.

Talking about race and guns in the wake of the Charleston killings is that last thing the country needs.  Dylann Storm Roof no more represents me or other whites, than Andres Lubitz represents Germans, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev represents Muslims, or Alton Nolen represents African-Americans. Nor do we imbue these nutcases’ weapons of choice (airplane, pressure cooker bomb, knife) with scary, mystical, and evil connotations, the way liberals do with guns.

I have a modest proposal.  Let’s all talk a lot less about race and guns. Let’s try to be polite, and treat everybody the same, even if we notice that they have a different skin hue. And let’s try to keep the rights we still have, before our elites, instead of badgering us to talk, stop us.